Twitter is actively courting healthcare marketers, appearing at San Francisco’s Health 2.0 conference on Monday to talk about the surge in health-related tweets that users are sending, and to encourage marketers to jump on this trend.
Melissa Barnes, Twitter’s head of agency and brand advocacy, spoke on behalf of Twitter at the Health 2.0 event, marking the company’s first-ever appearance at the health/tech event.
She said that tweets related to health have increased 51 percent in 2012 so far. Breaking this down into topics, Barnes noted that many users tweet about their personal health, but that there are health education topics and policy-related tweets being sent on a regular basis as well.
Barnes also told the audience that the most-tweeted about health-related topic in Twitter’s history was the Supreme Court’s decision this June about the Affordable Care Act, which say upwards of 13,000 tweets per minute.
And while Twitter is doing all it can to encourage healthcare marketers to jump on this trend and start buying ads, the healthcare industry must tread carefully: Twitter cannot accept any pharmaceutical ads for display on its network, and there are legal implications of promoting certain healthcare topics.
There have been some interesting developments in terms of healthcare tweeting in recent months. Researchers have used Twitter to track the spread of diseases in real-time, and there have been studies showing that Twitter is actually faster than health officials at tracking epidemics. However, Twitter is also host to many health misunderstandings, such as people tweeting about taking the wrong medication for their symptoms.
Barnes closed off her presentation to Health 2.0 by suggesting that marketers might be able to use Twitter more effectively to provide general disease information, offer thought leadership, and content related to current events.